Lilian’s Story

Year: 1996
Production Co: Movieco Australia
Director: Jerzy Domaradzki
Writer: Steve Wright/Kate Grenville
Cast: Ruth Cracknell, Toni Collette, Barry Otto

Lillian Singer (Ruth Cracknell) is released from an asylum in her 60s, let loose in Sydney by herself after a relative sets her up in a flat in Kings Cross and leaves her painfully unequipped to deal with the world.

Eccentric and childlike, Lillian crisscrosses the city making friends with various misfits, from the local hookers to a drunk taxi driver she's convinced is the boy she was in love with as a young girl.

At the same time we see the younger Lillian's (Toni Collette) stuffy, oppressed upbringing under her patriarchal father (Barry Otto) in the palatial home where she lives with her brother.

As we learn see more about how Lillian lives on the streets – busking lines from Shakespeare for a living and living in a cave on the north shore – we learn what made her the way she is.

It takes awhile to reach the shocking reveal about Lillian's past and the story of the younger woman is more interesting, Collette showing a very early dedication to her craft by her naked (in every sense of the word) approach to the character and the tragedy that befell her.

It also joined a very established genre in Australian cinema at the time it was released, the mental illness drama.

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